7 nutrients that should be part of a toddler’s diet for healthy growth
If you are a first-time parent, sooner or later, you will wonder if your toddler is getting sufficient nutrition or not. As his or her paediatrician might have already told you, a balanced diet is essential for providing your kid with energy, strength, mental agility and adequate immunity. And since toddlers grow up fast, including the top food groups in his diet is necessary for a healthy future. Hence, awareness is the key to success in this case.
So, know all about the nutrients that play an important role in your child’s wellbeing, along with their food sources:
Carbohydrates are well-known for providing energy to the body. Now, since a child’s nutritional requirements are more than an adult’s, and his basal metabolic rate is higher too, he will require more energy. So, including ample and complex carbohydrates in his diet is essential. These nutrients also have a protein-sparing function, which makes proteins freely available for your kid’s growth and development. Some good sources of carbohydrates for toddlers are whole wheat, brown rice, semolina, rice flakes, and roots and tubers like potatoes and yams.
Protein, also known as a body-building nutrient, contains amino acids that play a key role in the formation of body cells and tissues. Protein is responsible for the development of the body’s immune system as well. Some good sources of protein for your toddler are milk and milk products, eggs, chicken, fish, beans, and lentils.
Apart from carbohydrates, fats are also considered as one of the major sources of energy in the human diet. 1gm of fat gives 9 Kcal of energy for instance. Fatty acids help in building the structure, composition, and permeability of human cell membranes. Essential fatty acids like DHA are considered to be good fats that help in brain development and boosting of the immune system. There are some fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, which are also very important for your child’s growth.
Different vitamins play different roles in ensuring a child’s development and growth. Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption by bones, while vitamin A is required for healthy eyes and proper functioning of the immune system. It also helps in the formation of antibodies. Vitamin C and E are important for boosting the immune system, and vitamin B helps in various other body functions.
Minerals are important for the overall growth of your kids too. Iron not only helps in producing haemoglobin, which supplies oxygen to the body cells, but it is also essential for improving the immune system. Toddlers require an average of 9 mg of iron per day. Iron deficiency in the body can lead to anaemia too. There are various foods available that are rich in iron, including green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified foods, lentils, and beans. If a child eats food containing vitamin C along with iron-rich foods, he will be able to absorb more iron.
We all know how important calcium is for strong and healthy bones, especially during a child’s growth phase. Hence, parents must include enough calcium in their child’s diet. Green leafy vegetables and dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cottage cheese (paneer) are rich sources of calcium.
Zinc helps in the formation of new cells as well as enzymes that are required to improve the immune system. It can help heal wounds too. And zinc deficiency can lead to a weaker immune system and diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Some rich sources of zinc that you can offer your little one are meat, whole-wheat bread, baked beans, and pumpkin seeds.
So, you now know what all nutrients your toddler needs for optimal growth and the healthiest foods that can provide them. Always make sure that the meals are balanced, and provide small, frequent meals instead of three large ones. Keep your child away from junk foods as well, since too much of sugar, salt or fat can decrease his appetite for essential nutrients.
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